Fair Board agrees to online livestock auctions


By Ryan Berry


GREENVILLE — The Darke County Junior Fair will be going to an online livestock sale beginning with the 2024 Darke County Fair. The board agreed to the proposal from the Livestock Sale Committee with a 10-1 vote. Dave Singer cast the lone opposing vote.

Representatives from the sale committee cited the number of buyers dwindling, huge amount of volunteer hours, and errors on bid sheets due to handwriting, wrong numbers and wrong names that have delayed invoicing and checks as the reason to depart from the current way of doing business to going to the internet-based sale.

The Darke County Agricultural Society purchased ShoWorks several years ago to handle the junior fair entries for shows, which also has a feature to do internet sales. However, the livestock sale committee expressed their concern that if someone makes a mistake and deletes something, everything could be gone including the livestock sale information. The committee suggested using Grand Champion software and Final Drive Breeders World Auction Service. The livestock sale committee spokesperson said, “We take care of it. If we make a mistake, it’s on our end. If a junior fair kid or somebody over here makes a mistake, uh oh, we just deleted everything and we have to figure out what we did or did not do.” The spokesperson said they don’t have a problem with ShoWorks and would be willing to use it if they can get the bugs worked out of it, but Final Drive Breeders World Auction is simple to use.

Director Singer questioned how many buyers they would lose at the sales. “I will not get on a computer to buy,” he said. The committee believes they will gain more than they lose. Another representative from the committee stated, “You will gain more buyers than you lose because of technology. This is 2024.” A committee representative pointed out there will still be the option that bidders can come to the sale office, and they will put the bid on the internet for them.

One big concern from the auctioneers is that with the bid sheets that are currently being used, the auction is no longer an auction. The spokesperson said some of the auctioneers attended their sale committee meeting and expressed concern that they are in violation of the Ohio Revised Code when it comes to the junior fair livestock auctions and the way they are conducted. “This is really price fixing. We’re not having an auction anymore,” said the spokesperson.

Director Craig Bowman questioned the lack of interaction with the kids by going to this format. The spokesperson said they were concerned about that also and are working on a plan to have a Celebration of Achievements event where the buyers can come and meet with the kids. The junior fair livestock sellers will continue to send thank you letters to the buyers.

According to the information provided to board members, the online sale would be open for a week, allowing more time to gather bids. Plus, receiving and sending data via a phone on the fairgrounds can be unreliable. By going to the online auction, the livestock sales will no longer be spread out over several days, which would allow the fair to have space in its schedule for a Champions Sale.

Director Curtis Yount expressed later in the meeting that the ODA (Ohio Department of Agriculture) and the fair veterinarians are pushing for a quicker turn around on getting animals on and off the fairgrounds. According to Yount, they are pushing for a 72-hour turnaround. They believe this will help deter the spread of disease.

When asked about the cost of the program to the Agricultural Society, President Greg Pearson said he believes the livestock sale committee will pick up that cost.

In other business, the fair board learned the Darke County Sheriff’s Department is no longer involved with the Home and Sport Expo. Joe Wintrow has served on that committee for several years and plans to keep the event moving forward. However, there is an issue with holding it on the same weekend that it has typically been held. The fairground expects to have several camping units on the fairgrounds due to the solar eclipse on April 8. Director Christoph Keller made a motion to partner with the Home and Sport Expo with the intent that the board gets the building rent first and then a percentage of the profits will go toward youth programs on the fairgrounds. Wintrow expressed his desire to help other programs throughout the county with the expo’s portion of the profit. The new date for the expo will be April 12-14. The board agreed with a 10-1 vote. The lone dissenting vote came from Pearson.

The board also nailed down its entertainment in front of the grandstand. New this year will be a school bus demolition derby on Sunday evening. The board was encouraged to get the local school districts involved to help paint the buses. The winning bus painted in the school’s colors will have $500 donated to the school. The show is expected to be approximately three hours long with some of the classes from the Saturday demolition derby moved to the Sunday evening show. The school bus demolition derby will be held in memory of the late Dave Niley who had been in charge of the demolition derby for many years and always wanted to hold a school bus demolition derby.

The board will continue to hold motorcycle racing on Friday evening.

The board went into executive session and emerged to approve the Tuesday morning/afternoon tractor pulls.

The next regular meeting of the Darke County Agricultural Society’s board of directors is Feb. 7, 7:30 p.m., Secretary’s Office, Darke County Fairgrounds.

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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